Why UMass Boston? Picture of students on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

Alumni Achievements

Documentary filmmaker Chico Colvard with his camera

Chico Colvard

  • College of Liberal Arts, Philosophy and Political Science, 1997

  • Award-winning documentary filmmaker; UMass Boston adjunct professor

The fact that documentary filmmaker and University of Massachusetts Boston alumnus Chico Colvard’s Family Affair was the first documentary Oprah Winfrey acquired for her OWN network is saying something about his accomplishments.

In 1997, Colvard won the John F. Kennedy Award, UMass Boston's highest undergraduate award—recognizing academic achievement, outstanding service, and citizenship—given annually at commencement.

The university’s commitment to social justice continued to resonate with this philosophy and political science major after he graduated. In 2003, Colvard returned to UMass Boston as an adjunct professor to teach courses on race, law, and media. He now works alongside professors who inspired him as a student.

Family Affair
Colvard’s most recent achievement is producing an intensely personal documentary centered on his discovery, at age 10, that his father had been sexually abusing his three sisters for years. Family Affair focuses on the levels of forgiveness survivors have in order to maintain some semblance of family.           

The Boston Globe called the film “one of the most psychologically complex movies ever made about either racial identity or abuse of any kind.”

The Globe and Oprah aren’t the only ones to recognize the film’s power. Other honors include:

  • Best Documentary Feature - Atlanta Film Festival
  • Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature - Independent Film Festival Boston
  • Best Documentary Feature - Cincinnati Film Festival
  • Best Documentary Feature - Duke City DocFest, Albuquerque

Community
Family Affair is subject matter for one of Colvard’s classes on racial justice and documentary filmmaking. He says he appreciates the values the university places on connecting scholarly and creative output with the larger community.

“It’s evident in the work, and the community involvement, that everyone I know who is teaching there is doing,” he says. “It’s just a given—if you want to be a part of the community, this is how we do it.”

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